News Briefs: Gov. Wolf Vetoes EITC Expansion Bill and More

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Gov. Tom Wolf
Gov. Tom Wolf (Governor Tom Wolf via Wikimedia Commons)

Gov. Wolf Vetoes EITC Expansion Bill

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has rejected legislation that would have expanded the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program from $110 million to $210 million — a program many families use to help pay for Jewish day schools.

Wolf’s veto message said, in part, “This legislation prompts a serious question: Why would the Commonwealth allow for the expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) that supports private institutions while our current public-school system remains underfunded?

“We have public schools that are structurally deteriorating, contaminated by lead, and staffed by teachers who are not appropriately paid and overstretched in their responsibilities. Tackling these challenges, and others, should be our collective priority.”

John Cusack Posts, Apologizes for and Deletes Anti-Semitic Image

Calling it a “careless mistweet,” actor John Cusack apologized for an anti-Semitic image he tweeted, JTA reported.

In the image, a hand in a sleeve with a Star of David crushes people below it. There also is a quote incorrectly attributed to French philosopher Voltaire that reads, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Above the image Cusack tweeted, “Follow the money.”

Cusack first said he thought the post was pro- Palestinian. Later, he deleted it and tweets justifying it, agreeing that it was anti-Semitic.

“In reaction to Palestinian human rights under Israeli occupation, an issue that concerns anyone fighting for justice, I [retweeted] and quickly deleted an image that’s harmful to both Jewish and Palestinian friends, and for that I’m sorry,” he tweeted. “The image depicted a blue Star of David. … I know the star itself is deeply meaningful to Jews no matter where they stand on Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.”

National Kosher Food Pantry Launched

The Kosher Food Lifeline, which is designed to help kosher-observant Jews find low-cost or free food, was launched June 17 by the Orthodox Union, JTA reported.

The food pantry resource center will assist more than 200 food agencies in 24 states that offer food to both families and individuals. The program will assist with procurement, distribution, government grants and logistical support.

“By coordinating purchases and helping corporate food donors to direct donations where they are needed, we can increase efficiency, eliminate waste, bring prices down, and hopefully, help these agencies provide more nutritious, protein-rich kosher food to those who need it most,” said Allison Deal, the program’s founding director.

Pennsylvania Man Charged in Fire at Brooklyn Rabbi’s Home

The New York Police Department arrested Menachem Karelefsky of McKeesport on June 16 and charged him with two counts of attempted murder and one of arson in connection with a fire at a Brooklyn rabbi’s home, JTA reported.

The June 14 fire injured 13 people, including an infant; 12 people were taken to the hospital, although none of the injuries was considered serious.

Karelefsky is being held without bail. Prosecutors said that when he was arrested, he had lighter fluid, knives and an ax with him and was reported near the rabbi’s home when the fire began.

Karelefsky has asserted on LinkedIn and Orthodox blogs that the rabbi, Jonathan Max, a Chaim Berlin Yeshiva teacher, molested him in a dormitory. Karelefsky has converted to Christianity.

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